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The District Attorney for San Diego County has sent newly-elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón a scathing letter criticizing his progressive policies as not "in the interest of justice," and rescinded permission for Gascón to prosecute an accused Los Angeles cop killer's robbery charges in San Diego.
"I did not want to pick this fight, but I just can't be silent," San Diego County DA Summer Stephan told FOX 11 in an interview on Thursday. "This is new territory. I haven’t had to do this before."
According to an exclusive Fox 11 story, "the letter revolves around the case of Rhett Nelson, who in 2019 was charged in LA County with the shooting and killing of an innocent skateboarder named Dmitry Koltsov in downtown LA."
Hours after that murder, Nelson is accused of fatally shooting off duty LA County Sheriff’s deputy Joseph Solano execution-style while he was standing in line at an Alhambra Jack in the Box.
Prior to those crimes, Nelson is accused of using a gun to commit five armed robberies in San Diego.
When Nelson was arrested in Los Angeles county following the murders, the San Diego DA’s office gave LA County permission to prosecute Nelson for the San Diego armed robberies. At the time, the former DA, Jackie Lacey, was still in office.
"It is common to defer jurisdiction to the county that has the higher crimes, we had done so, but now the circumstances have changed," Stephan told Fox 11's Bill Melugin.
According to FOX 11, "Stephan was appalled to learn that the new LA District Attorney, George Gascón’s, planned to drop all gun enhancements against Nelson for the shootings and robberies, as well as Gascón’s intention to drop special circumstances of multiple murders. Dismissal of these special charges would take life without parole off the table if Nelson were convicted, and could potentially shorten his prison time."
"This doesn’t require creativity," Stephan told Fox 11. "Two people were killed, you don't get two lives for the price of one, that's not how this works. The polices that have been set forth, I think they're unlawful. I think you cannot stand up in front of a judge and say that it’s in the interest of justice because those words cannot come across any prosecutor’s lips and be truthful about it."
Stephan notified Gascón in her letter that she is rescinding her permission for LA County to prosecute the San Diego armed robberies, and wants the charges returned to her office.
"I do not want our San Diego county cases to be connected to any publicly-announced special directive that dismisses special circumstances and serious gun use allegations where your stated reason is "in the interest of justice," when clearly the facts of this defendant’s violent offenses show it is not," Stephan wrote.
"I can't be an unwilling participant in kind of a mockery in what the law provides for victim's rights, I just can't do it," Stephan added.
"In this case, the person accused of being the killer is 30 years old, so when he’s 50 years old he will be eligible for elder parole," Stephan said. "How can you say that seven armed robberies and the execution, the murder of two innocent people is one where a person should have a parole date in 20 years?" A parole date that Gascón's new policies restrict deputy DA's from attending, Stephan added.
Stephan told FOX 11 if she gets her charges back, she will keep enhancements on all of them, and Nelson will face approximately 30 years in prison if convicted on the armed robbery charges alone.
A hearing in Nelson's case is set for Monday. A judge will decide whether or not to keep or drop the enhancements and special circumstances. The judge will also listen to Stephan’s motion about returning the armed robbery charges to her office.